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15
Mar

A night on INGOs & International Development: Secret Opportunities

Thursday night’s event “INGOs & International Development: Secret Opportunities” lifted the lid on the various routes into the INGO sector, and what you can do to increase your chances of a successful career in international development.  For anybody who missed the event, we’re recapping some of the top tips from DfID, Action Aid, Oxfam, Merlin, Medair and others…

1.       There’s more to volunteering than stuffing envelopes

If looking for a voluntary route into an INGO, focus more on the role you’ll be doing, rather than the organisation.  Many medium- or large-sized charities now offer trainee programmes and even small ones will consider internships. Transferrees from the private or corporate sectors, with significant talents in business development, HR or Finance are often sought after for trustee positions, but volunteering comes in many shapes and sizes, and you can often start as an armchair campaigner, signing and promoting petitions – or even writing blogs…

2.       Size Matters

Remember, it’s often the smaller charities that give you greater insight into the scope of activities of an organisation.  Volunteer in a huge INGO, and you might find yourself envelope-stuffing or data-crunching.  Volunteer in a tiny charity, and you’ll be exposed to the entire work of the organisation and end up with a much more valuable experience, perhaps even a higher level of those all-important contacts…

3.       Stand Up & Stand Out

Stand up and be counted!  If you’re interested in international development, then recruiters want to see more than just words.  Highlight your experience of campaigning, volunteering, fundraising, organising talks, or anything at all which makes you stand out from the crowd.  Also, if going for a job or an internship, you could try the ‘panini approach’ of phoning up the line manager and offering to buy them lunch under the guise of finding out what it’s really like to work for an organisation…

4.       Try the Consultative Approach…

A really significant amount of work in the INGO field is carried out by consultancies, rather than or in partnership with INGOs, but most of them are small and therefore don’t appear on people’s radars.  This is great news for transferees from the private sector in particular, who may be able to work on feasibility studies, micro financing, troubleshooting and capacity-building, etc. It’s also a great way of specialists such as solar energy, water sanitation or civil engineers to work in the INGO field.  However, there’s no getting away from it – you’ll still have to build those networks…!

5.       Network

We’ve said it before: up to 50% (at least) of all vacancies are never publicly advertised – and this is certainly true of INGOs, where advertising a popular role might result in more than a thousand applications. You need to build your networks to help you come across those roles – and as well as our monthly I Am Networking events of course, attend talks, rallies, campaigning days, etc., to talk to people in the know…

Networking plays a huge role in what the I Am Group is all about – and we make time for it in all of our friendly ‘I Am Networking’ or ‘I Am Learning’ events.  Visit https://theiamgroup.eventbrite.co.uk/ for more details…

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